School start time debate heats up in Barrington

Officials share new cost-efficient proposal; crowd still divided


7:45. 8:30. 8:15 — What time should Barrington High School and Middle School students start class in the morning?

The debate over school start times in Barrington continued on Thursday night, when the school committee discussed the latest possible change. In an effort to reach a more cost-efficient or cost-neutral start time option, school officials pitched an 8:15 a.m. start for the district's older students. 

With the proposed 8:15 start, the school district could reportedly allow for the increased benefits of a later start for older students while not pinching taxpayers for the additional $400,000-plus each year that would be required for the 8:30 a.m. start.

Prior to inviting public comments from the people at the meeting, Barrington School Committee Chairwoman Kate Brody shared her feelings about the start time situation.

Ms. Brody thanked all the people who helped work on the start time plan, including the ad hoc committee. But, she added, that much has changed since the school committee first voted to move start times to 8:30 a.m. more than a year ago. She mentioned an unexpected increase in medical premiums this year and the loss of state aid to Barrington schools. 

Ms. Brody said the committee had not been looking at making a 1 percent increase to the budget that it likely could not sustain year after year.

The chairwoman said she did not want to sacrifice the benefits of the start time, but needed to recognize that "the landscape has changed."

Without making a final decision, the school committee then opened up the discussion to the dozens of people who attended the meeting. 

Some, including Dr. Lisa Daft, Tom Rimoshytus, Kim Jacobs and Anne Merlino, voiced their support for no change to school start times or a minimal change that would not carry a hefty price tag. 

Others, including Erika Sevetson, Pam Lauria, Pete Bilderback and Scott Douglas, urged the school committee to "hold the line" and stay with the 8:30 a.m. start time.

The divisive nature of the conversation also compelled people to speak during the meeting. Many people said they were not happy with how residents were treating each other during the debate. Others said they were nervous to share their feelings in the mixed room. 

Toward the end of the discussion, one resident who has two teenage daughters said that the real culprit in the lack of sleep is not an early wake-up time, but rather the amount of time high school and middle school students dedicate to their electronic devices. 

"I seriously question how many of these kids have any idea how much they sacrifice to their electronics. We're just giving them more time to be on their electronics," she said. 


3 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Having difference in opinion and being able to state these publicly is one of the hallmarks of our country. However when expressing those differing opinions it is disheartening to see how disrespectful and self serving this conversation has become. We can agree to disagree without implying that parents have zero ability to take away technology from their children at a reasonable hour, or that students who completed a survey about the time change didn't know what they were answering when they stated they would use the extra time in the morning to sleep, as the woman this article quoted stated. The parents in town as well as our students deserve better than that.

Please, let's find a way to discuss the data and the impact of this change in a truthful and respectful manner.

Friday, February 17 | Report this

Last night it was made clear that certain members of the SC and of the community are FINE with kids walking home in pitch darkness just so they can push their agenda through. Mind boggling that they would think it was also FINE to have HMS start at 9:30 and that 4th and 5th graders would then be left to their own devices until they had to go to school if parents have to go work (don't know of many jobs where you get to start work that late??????). It's time for the silent majority to wake up and realize that this insanity has to stop! Please read this and realize that there are so many more FREE options. Removing electronics at bedtime is step 1 !

Friday, February 17 | Report this

Directly from the article linked to from the


We found that later school start times, particularly when compared with start times more than 60 min earlier, are associated with longer weekday sleep durations, lower weekday-weekend sleep duration differences, reduced vehicular accident rates, and reduced subjective daytime sleepiness. Improvement in academic performance and behavioral issues is less established.

Thursday, February 23 | Report this

2016 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Prudence Island · Riverside · Rumford · Seekonk · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.